Here are details around some high praise for the Lamm monoblocks playing classical music that came up at my recent amplifier benchmarking evening. So I hosted a comparison of different power amplifiers, along with my Lamm ML1.1s and various other tube and hybrid designs. Attending, among others, was a friend who is a classical music aficionado; he studies the composers and music and goes each week or two to listen to classical music at the Houston Symphony.
On the comparison of the amplifiers the Lamm ML1.1s were the clear winner, most natural sound and close to what is heard in a live performance. Here it was clear that the semiconductor amplifiers had undesired harshness, and other tube amplifiers were “muddy” in comparison to the Lamms. A key music piece was Prokofiev, the Piano Concertos No. 2 in G minor, delivered by Gabriel Tacchino and Orchestra of Radio Luxemburg. Now my friend the classical music aficionado has always claimed he has never heard anything from a stereo music system like what he hears in the concert hall. Listening to the Lamms play the same piece he had heard the week before in the Houston Symphony, he said ”Finally! This sounds just like I am sitting in my seat listening to a live performance of the Symphony orchestra!”.
Brian Hornby February 10, 2018
Hello Elina & Vladimir,
I wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your Lamm LP2.1 deluxe phono stage. What is so special about the Lamm LP2.1 deluxe phono stage: Everything.
The LP2.1 brings out the best of each album being played, and by this statement I mean that each album portrays the soul of the musician, vocals are very natural, bass is just right. — very dynamic when needed but with so much tonal definition to drums and the bodies of the musicians instruments being played.
The result of adding the Lamm LP2.1 phono stage to my audio system is a complete emotional involvement into the music, I think I will have to borrow a term from Jeff Day: “this is the “Music Lovers” Phono Stage.”
Jason Parmenter www.parmentersound.com February 2017
The Lamm M1.2 Reference amplifiers. I have now had the chance to put a good number of hours on the M1.2 Reference amps and can honestly say that I am totally blown away. These amps really are special…and the sound has opened up beautifully. The sonic textures throughout the bass, midrange and treble are incredible – similar to the taste sensation you get when drinking a really fine bottle of wine. You totally connect with the music. The Lamm electronics really give you insight into the artist’s musical intent, and I feel privileged to have them as as the centre point of my system.
Tim, New Zealand. December 17, 2015
While I’ve owned and enjoyed a pair of Lamm M1.1s for about 10 years, the ML2.2s are in a rarefied class by themselves. I’m astonished by their powerful musicality, delicacy, depth and organic fluidity.
They reach deep beneath the superficial to reveal the soul of music. Congratulations on such a profound accomplishment!
Christopher Burkett February 16, 2014
By the way, I still love the M2.2 power amps. I recently bought another pair of monoblock from another brand to compare with the M2.2 as I just acquired a brand new pair of Revel Salon 2 speakers. I would think the new monoblocks (with 1,000 watts) per channel would bring my system to a new level at least in terms of dynamics and bass reproduction.
Much to my surprise, the M2.2 blew away the 1,000 watt mono amps. No contest. The M2.2 won hands down. The M2.2 in fact has a bit more dynamics, more air, better image focus, deeper stage, and more transparent than the 1,000 watt beast. My two other audiophile friends heard the same things I heard. I think the M2.2 really can stand the test of time since it has been in production for quite some years now.
Keep up the good work.
Ken Lui, California. April 12, 2010
I just recently upgraded from the Lamm M2.1 to the M2.2 amplifiers. To tell you that I am pleased with the upgrade is an understatement. The sound improvement is nothing short of amazing. That said, don’t get an impression that the M2.1 was not up to the task. The M2.1 is already an excellent amplifier. But the M2.2 elevates its performance to the next level. The areas that strike me are overall more see-through quality, more delicate and
purer midrange, cleaner bass, and quieter background. The timber is more real and the sound more alive. When Paul Bolin from Stereophile reviewed the M2.1, he mentioned the sound was a bit on the dark side. I didn’t know what he really meant then as I didn’t find the M2.1 dark sounding. However, within moments of listening to the M2.2, I realized what Paul really referred to. The M2.2 has more sparkle on the top end, and better overall transparency. It sounds like the whole soundstage is more illuminated (with more lights) and yet, it is not bright or etchy. It is just easier for one to pinpoint the position of the instruments. The upgrade is not inexpensive; however, I think it is worth it. Job well done, Mr. Lamm.
Ken Lui, California. February 27, 2009
(Comment about the ML3 Signature amplifiers)
Dear Ms. Lamm, It took me some time to rearrange my system but now it is all set. The least I could say is that I am quite satisfied with the new sound. It was quite an adventurous move to buy such ultra expensive amps without having heard them prior to making the decision. Obviously all my fears are in the past now. I am not a reviewer in a hi- end magazine – so in brief I would say – amazingly true sound even with the most difficult to be reproduced instruments, power and delicacy and all that’s necessary for a true musical experience. As far as I am a big music collector with 15,000 albums in my collection, for testing
purposes I initially listened to these types of music: big band jazz, small combo jazz, chamber and big orchestra symphony music, new and old rock and pop, vocal and acapella music, etc.
I also had the opportunity to compare the LAMM ML3s (together with Alexandria X-2, ARC REF 3, DCS Scarlatti, KUZMA XL Stabi the upgraded version, Koetsu Jade Platinum cartridge with Valhala speaker and power cables and Odin interconnects, Tom Evans the Groove+ phonostage and Finite Elemente supports) to other world recognized brands of amps in the same price league — and to my satisfaction the results are in favor of my system.
AAD. June 10, 2008
Hi Elina & Vladimir
I am using the EMM Labs CDSA CD player with the Lamm L2 reference preamplifier / Lamm M1.2 reference power amplifiers & Nirvana S-X Ltd audio cables feeding my Parmenter Fat Boy horn speakers (TAD Drivers) full range now with a new designed passive speaker crossover network. The sound is best I have
heard to date from my Fat Boys, there is just music with no signature to the type of amplifiers in the audio chain, the Lamm amplifiers match with the TAD professional speaker drivers incredibly well without restriction to dynamics or volume levels of music playback.
The sound I have in my room is what I have been searching for a very long time “Audio Nirvana” I think is the quotation I am looking for to describe the emotion & live realism to the sound reproduction quality. Vladimir, Thank you again for building such incredible audio amplifiers.
Jason www.parmentersound.com, New Zealand, November 3, 2007
Hi Elina & Vladimir
I have my client’s Lamm L2 Reference preamplifier in my reference audio system while he is away on his honeymoon. Well, I must say Vladimir, this is the finest line stage preamplifier I have ever heard, full stop. The Lamm L2 reference digs to the roots of each recordings bringing forth the emotional feelings of the musicians, the Lamm L2 Reference preamplifier tracks the musical flow like a linear musical instrument. What more can I say — this is the best line stage preamplifier I have had the pleasure of using in my audio systems in 27 years experience in audio
Vladimir, I hope you get lots of credit in the Audiophile world because credit is surely due, this is a incredible musical product, well done.
Jason Parmenter, www.parmentersound.com, New Zealand, June 5, 2007
I would like to preface my following comments by stating first that I consider myself an audiophile who over the past 33 years has owned just about every piece of high end gear and speakers. Over the last 7 years I have used the following speakers from Wilson Audio… Watt Puppy 5.1’s, Watt Puppy 6’s, MAXX’s, X-1 Grand Slamm Series lll and now over the last year Wilson X-2 Alexandria which in my opinion is the finest speaker I have ever heard. Initially, I was driving my speakers with Krell 750 Mcx monoblocks and then with Audio Research Reference 600 Mk ll.’s. Both of these amplifiers certainly performed wonderfully. When Audio Research recently announced their new 610T, I quickly sold the Ref 600’s with the anticipation of buying the new 610T. After waiting almost 11 weeks for the new 610T, there developed some problems with my order. As a result I decided to look in a different direction for amplifiers. Over the years at CES I have always loved your room display and demos.
Talking to friends of mine and the people at Wilson Audio I quickly became interested in your ML 2.1. My only reservation was how could an amplifier of only 18 wpc drive my X-2’s (which have 15″ drivers) with any degree of performance to which I have grown accustomed with the Audio Research 600’s ? I read many reviews about the ML 2.1 and the more I read, the more I knew this could be my last amp purchase. How could so many critics be mistaken. My next concern was that my setup is not in a dedicated room but is shared with my home theater. Hence the X-2’s are used for left and right channels in my home theater. These of course would be driven by the ML 2.1. Prior to my purchase I placed a call to you for advice. Your comments were that you would prefer me to consider your M 1.2 Reference as this would function better in the home theater. After further conversation you felt comfortable that with the X-2’s rated at 95 dB efficiency, they would perform without difficulty with your ML2.1. Suffice it to say I am an audiophile first and foremost who also loves home theater. The best sound was what I was after and without hearing the ML2.1 on my speakers I bought them on a blind leap of faith.
Fast forward now 4 weeks later. My first impression was that out of the box I have just never heard as musical an amplifier as your ML2.1. The mid range was staggering. The soundstage was the most realistic of anything I have ever heard. I could not stop listening for the next several days. I have just never been so engaged in, or so emotionally involved with the music as I am now. After the next 2-3 weeks of burn-in they became even better. Much to my sheer amazement was that I could play these amps at volumes higher than what I even listen to music under normal circumstances and with plenty of head room to spare. I have yet to even make these amps clip on my behemoth X-2’s.
On to home theater. Again, absolutely no problem with any DVD sound track presented to these amps. Simply put, there was nothing lacking. Many people would argue that the most important component of a system is the speakers. Having listened to your ML 2.1’s over the past 4 weeks I would now beg to differ. How an amplifier like this has produced such a dramatic change in the music can only be answered by the smile not only on my face but also on others who have heard my setup both with the Audio Research Reference 600’s Mk lll’s and now with the ML2.1’s.Those Reference 600’s by the way gave off so much heat that even though my home has 2 central air conditioning systems, I had to install a third central air conditioning system for just this room. Alas… if I had only bought your ML 2.1’s last year I could have saved myself $7000 for the air conditioning system as well as another $10,000 in the difference in the price of the amps. I guess my only satisfaction is knowing that almost certainly there will be no further need for me to buy another pair of amplifiers.
Thank you, Vladimir, for instilling back into me my passion and love of this hobby. I have never heard music in a manner such as this. It is as good as it gets.
Stephen A Williams MD. Danville, California. July 19, 2005
Well, since adding the LL2 to my system I am now convinced and happy with the results that I am getting. It has definitely steered my system in the right direction. I wouldn’t make much of a reviewer ( describing sound can be difficult ) but excellent tone and colour come to mind. I am listening to and appreciating music that previously had not appealed to me, which is very pleasing. This preamp is a fabulous piece of equipment.
Graham Booth, Gold Coast, Australia. Feb. 10, 2005
I wanted to let you know how extremely happy I am with my recently purchased ML 2.1’s and L2. (I’ve owned them now for about 4 months). There’s no need to go into how great they sound. I could not do them justice. That has already been done by numerous renowned audio reviewers. In addition to the sound, the confidence that I have in the build quality of the equipment and of your company cannot be overstated.
Paul Levitas. Jan. 5, 2005
I wanted to take this opportunity to give you my reactions to the ML-1 monoblocks that I’ve owned for about a week now. I am using them with a pair of Genesis 201 speakers, ARC Ref 2 preamp and Clearaudio Master Ref table w/Transfiguration cartridge and BAT phono preamp. This is my main system and I normally use ARC Ref 600 monoblocks. I intended to use the ML-1’s with a second system (having Kharma Ceramique 1’s and Lamm LL2 preamp) but listening to them for this week in my main system has created a problem…I don’t want to use them in the second system! The sound of the ML-1’s is astounding and markedly better than the much more pricey Ref 600’s! My reaction has been to put my ARC’s up for sale in the hopes of making enough on them to buy another pair of ML-1’s. Not only can the ML-1’s provide sufficient power and headroom for the Genesis 201’s, they provide a level of detail and 3D imaging that I didn’t believe possible above and beyond the Ref 600’s (and I have really enjoyed them in my system until now).
Of course, the reviews I’ve read over the years as well as my experience with the LL2 preamp consistently laud the quality and sound of the Lamm gear so my personal reactions are not anything unexpected I suppose. However, given the quality of the Ref 600’s in my system I didn’t expect to have this strong and positive a reaction to the ML-1’s above and beyond my Ref 600’s.
I certainly haven’t heard all the high-end amps out on the market but I’ve listened to quite a few (ranging from Halcro, Spectral and Classe’ to VTL, ARC and Jadis) and I have found the ML-1’s to be the most satisfying I’ve heard. I suppose this is my way of saying both thank you and curse you — you’ve raised the bar for what I consider to be quality music reproduction and now I have to figure out how to get that second set of ML-1’s (or selling my speakers and buying more efficient ones that would work with the ML-2…egad).
Chris Earley. July 15, 2003
I have been living with the LP2 deluxe phono-stage for 2 months now, and here is what I have to say.
Let me make this short, I could go on praising the outstanding performance of the LP2: incredible midrange and treble, bass performance that still takes my breath away. Music played through the LP2 feels like a live presentation of the music. Neil Young in full size in my listening room is almost scary. But the point is, that there is really not much to say, it just sounds right.
The LP2 phono-stage is to my ears the best phono-stage in the world, making my records sound organic, and that is to my opinion what it’s all about. I have owned top dog phono-stages from many of the big names in the business. The Lamm LP2 is not only better than the competition, it sets a quite new standard for phono amplification. I can’t recommend this product enough, the price considered, I find this the best bargain that you can possible do, if you are looking for a reference phono-stage.
The build quality is among the best in the business, and the operation of this phono-stage is quite simple, plug it in, let it burn in, and welcome to sound paradise on earth. If You like music – You will like the LP2.
Claus Grosen. May 27, 2003
I am generally reluctant to state impressions of an amplifier until I believe I know the full measure of its character. That generally takes about a month. However, I shall make an exception in the case of the Lamm ML1 which I received 4 days ago. Let me just say this — I was up till 3 am the first night. I played hooky and did not go to work the second day. I was up to 4 am the second night. Does that tell you all you need to know? I am driving the Wilson MAXX and, as you assured me, they do indeed drive them “with aplomb”. Sure, I might be a bit greedy on loud orchestral passages and desire a bit more power, but the subs hide that need quite well (I run the MAXX full range.) I would never have guessed they sound nearly equal in power to the Krell 350MC monoblocks that they replaced, but they do! At this point, I am a bit reluctant to say they are “this” or “that”. Break-in is still evolving. What I can say is that it has been over a decade since I last had the same sense of joy from any audio component. It is truly a beautiful and astonishing sounding amplifier. I extend my congratulations to you. Most notably, they are stark reminders to those of us that lost our way and abandoned tube amps years ago that we are delighted to find our way home again in a new era of tube amplifier performance. I look forward to great listening.
Martin Wax M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington University School Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110. January 20, 2002
I would like to share a few of my experiences with LAMM equipment.My first thought when I heard a voice through your L1 preamp was that it sounded like REAL, and this has been the reaction of many others. This must the biggest compliment any audio equipment designer can wish for, but from my experience none deserves it more than you. This sense of realness I also find in your M2.1 amplifier, which is one of the very few amplifiers that can truly drive my Apogee Diva speakers.Being exposed to such realistic sound reproduction has certain consequences. It has solved one of my great dilemmas in this hobby: does a certain component sound good on its own, or is it actually colored but happens to counterbalance the coloration of other components in my system? With LAMM this issue has fallen away as it gives me a neutral base from which I can assess other equipment. I have also come to realize that most tweaks are designed to patch up flawed designs. Another effect is that I have lost my interest in frequenting shops to hunt for the next equipment upgrade. Once familiar with LAMM, I detect the colorations in other systems with such ease that it becomes difficult to appreciate them.A certain equipment manufacturer used to advertise with a picture of a banana and the statement that this item has as much to do with music as do technical specifications. How does this relate to your assertion that LAMM designs are not based on listening tests at all? It must mean that you have been able to identify, measure and control those technical parameters that directly relate to the way we experience music. I believe the significance of this fact is grossly underestimated in the audiophile community.Thank you for devoting your talents to audio equipment, as it has allowed me to experience recorded music in a revelatory manner.
Richard Fung. 23 April 2001
I wanted to express my thanks and leave some comments about M1.1 amplifiers and the LL2 preamp. First, I wanted to thank you for the protection afforded to both of these units in their shipping crates. Secondly, I wanted to comment on the build quality. I have owned my share of preamps/amps but none whose construct and shipping left me as reassured about their arrival and subsequent setup as yours.
As to their sound, I will defer to those whose comments are expressed elsewhere in this forum. I will say that their relationship is both natural and unassuming in not drawing attention to any particular aspect of presentation. I read in the LL2 review (also on this site) that the term ‘organic’ was used and for lack of anything better I will agree. Their presentation has a coherence that feels and sounds almost graceful. Most importantly, for me, is the feeling that this purchase will continue to play. Again, they seem built to last and to provide enjoyment of the music you have at hand.
Rich Lavoie. February 14, 2001
I have had a chance to listen more fully to the M1.1’s in the course of last week, and this past weekend. Mainly on CDs but a little on LPs. In a word, I am impressed with them. The way they get out of the way of the music is phenomenal. The capabilities of my Watt Puppies that they now reveal is also surprising to me, in a sense it feels like two upgrades in one. It’s almost like if you get new eyeglasses, you enjoy better vision but you also enjoy better life.In a nutshell, the image (which is what others refer to as soundstage, detail, ambiance, you name it — and which to me means what I feel with the system playing and the lights off) is a lot more lifelike. The bass extension will probably disappoint many friends of mine and would have otherwise disappointed me if I was still thinking in the Krell era. But for those people I would say it’s same reaction as someone who’s tasting water all of a sudden again, after having had soft drinks exclusively for eternity. I don’t have chance to attend live concerts as often as a Bostonian or New Yorker but like with ivory I can tell a fake piece when I see one.The center of gravity of the system, meaning the pleasure in listening to a classical, or classic rock or a jazz performance is also most optimum with these amps than I can remember, period. I have been listening at length to stuff that until now was boring or even unpleasant to sit through.
I know that as these amps grow on me, there is a chance that some of these initial impressions will fade. But I am happy to consider them as my “ear cleaning devices”, which hopefully will recalibrate my experience of reproduced music in my environment. I can’t wait to experiment with cables but the pleasure is too great to be messed with for now, and to the great chagrin of my dear and usually understanding spouse, I am rediscovering high-end.
Hakim Janah. January 15, 2001
Dear Mr. Shushurin,
I have just purchased LL2 vacuum tube preamplifier and wanted to offer some feedback about my experience with your design to date. I have been using an Audio Research SP-10 for the past 15 years with QUAD electrostatics and tube amplifiers. For the past two years I have been seeking to improve on the transparency of my preamp and have auditioned many products, including the BAT VK-5i, VK-50SE, Audio Research LS-25 among others. In each case there were aspects of the performance that prevented me from purchasing the equipment.
The LL2 wins hands down on comparison back to back with a Convergent Audio Technology Sig. 3 preamp. For the past week I have listened for many hours to the LL2 and find it to be the only preamp I have auditioned that combines extreme transparency and inner detail with a completely natural, convincingly musical presentation. I found the Audio Research a bit more dynamic, and the BAT somewhat more detailed, but the AR still had a glaze that obscured the harmonics of many instruments, and the BAT sounded overly controlled, and the soundstage was somewhat exaggerated compared to the LL2. Neither compared with the LAMM in terms of eliminating every semblance of electronic artifact, in getting all the harmonics just right, and in bringing me so much closer to the live musical event, that I finally felt I was within reach of the audiophile holy grail of genuine neutrality.
I confess that the ‘dual-mono’ volume controls and the lack of a remote make the LAMM less functionally attractive than the BAT which is admittedly a superb product. But, when it comes to the sound–and why else would anyone in their right mind spend $4000 for a line stage–the LAMM is simply the best I have heard. Congratulations on a brilliant achievement. If it is as reliable as it is musical, then I will be a very satisfied customer.
Mark J. Sedler, MD. April 26, 2000
Lamm products are unique! This is what I first understood from reading reviews and especially Lamm owners’ feedback: I immediately perceived that they were trying to communicate the fact that they had been experiencing something different from what they had previously heard. Now that I own a Lamm L1, I understand. It feels so CLOSE TO THE MUSIC that we no more can talk in terms of listening fatigue but instead we’d better introduce the concept of LISTENING ADDICTION! Thanks to Vladimir and his staff!!!
Fabrizio Biagetti, April 14, 2000
Hello, my name is Marco Rinaldi and I live in Italy. I’ve been an audiophile for many years and enjoy music systems very much. As you know, in Italy we have the love for good things, and among them, I’m especially fond of high end audio systems.
I’ve been regularly visiting Lamm’s web site with curiosity and interest because of all the wonderful things I’d heard about them. I really admired Vladimir and his products, from afar. I’ve been wondering if Lamm equipment really sounds as great as I thought them to be. On February 22, 2000, I posted an Internet message saying: Lamms are probably great but a bit too expensive. A few weeks after that post, I was wondering if they really are overpriced and expensive? After all, if they really are as wonderful as I’ve heard then they’re not overpriced compared to their competition. I decided to experience Lamms for myself. I first bought the L1 preamp and after hearing it, I decided to buy a pair of Lamm amps. But which one? M1.1, ML1 or ML2? All three are supposed to be the best in their class, all wonderful and yet so different from one another. It’s like choosing a beautiful suit–Armani? Versace? Prada? Very difficult to choose only one, but finally I settled on the M1.1s. My first thought, once the units arrived and I fired them up, was: “wow! Vladimir really is a genius and I’m going to make sure that all my friends will know about Lamms and get to hear them as well!” There’s something special about Lamms which is not found in any of its competitors. Lamm is like a Formula One Ferrari, and like the Ferrari there is passion in all Lamm products. I wish everyone could have a Lamm in their system and for Vladimir to continue enriching the audio world with his passion and genius. There really is a big need……..
Happy listening, Marco Rinaldi. April 10, 2000
My experience: Escape or panacea?
Hi End is about the preservation and reproduction of sound waves. There is no disagreement that the musical devices producing those waves can vary in quality or that the individual who operates those devices can vary in skill level. However, in the best scenario, a virtuoso using the finest instrument produces a sequence of “organized air waves” (called music) that pass into the ear, travel through nerves to the brain, and generate a “spiritual movement”. That is actually the goal of music composition and performance. So, the goal of Hi End– which tries as accurately as possible to reproduce those sound waves–is to deliver a “spiritual movement” or preserve an emotional impact that the composer intended to deliver to his or her audience.
The “spiritual movement” is a “spiritual movement”. It is not an electrostatic movement, not a single-ended movement, not a vacuum tube movement, not soundstage movement, not class “A” movement, not 24-bit movement, not “properly treated room” movement, not oversized magnet movement, not gold soldered movement, and not low distortion movement… All of the aforementioned movements are targeted to satisfy totally different demands of human needs. Our discussions of the particular technology that can enrich the composer’s message is similar to two death row inmates discussing how knife design and manufacturing improves its killing ability. Similarly, buying $50,000 worth of jewelry for a woman does not make her more valuable, applying world-class cosmetics to a corpse does not make it look charming, and trying to blow life in to the dead substance does not lead to a fruitful result. So why do we accept Hi End products that deliver “beautiful engineering solutions” but do not increase the chances of our being spiritually moved by the music?
I have been asking my friends, the audio equipment dealers, and myself those same questions and have come to realize that the answer cannot be found within the Hi End world. The Hi End industry is about a group of people who are paying their mortgages by selling merchandise to individuals who do not know what they really need. Hi End consumers are hostages of this industry and drift from brand to brand, store to store, buying into skillfully organized marketing campaigns but for some reason, after investing $100K in the latest and greatest Hi End gear, find themselves saying “not happy with what I’m hearing”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? However, contrary to “not happy audiophiles” I believe that I know what I am looking for. But unfortunately, each time I want to be “moved by music”, I cannot simply invite the Boston Symphony Orchestra or Willy Dixon over to my apartment for a couple of tunes. I need true “sound reproducing equipment”. Welcome to the audiophile club…
Purchasing Hi End gear is like purchasing a car. If you’re buying a BMW, then any model of BMW will be different from any model of Chrysler, though they will each retain the same types of distinctions throughout the product lines. It is the same with Hi End gear. All the equipment from a certain manufacturer will have a specific sound characteristic (which amuses me: it’s the musical instruments that should sound differently…). The reason for this is that behind each brand there is an individual or sometimes a group of people who have a vision of the products’ topology, principles, manufacturing methods, design and assembling. I feel very comfortable if we are talking about cars but I do not when it comes to the engineering of music producing gear. However, I still need to acquire a mechanism that will let me experience the pain of Buddy Guy or the joy of Mozart. Do I care about the manufacturer’s “…30 years in business” or their “…patent pending technology”?
I’ve heard them all. I have heard those “full of resolution” systems and realized that instead of getting the sensations I expected I got a direct insult to my intelligence. And what insulted me more was the fact that I actually paid for it and did so voluntarily. I have experienced many “music-producing machines”; however, my frustration has been increasing proportionally to the size of my dealer’s smile. Eventually I began to lose my interest for the entire field and began to wonder if it was fake. Then I was introduced to something which changed my entire perception of Hi End: LAMM.
No specific LAMM model of equipment is being mentioned here because all LAMM electronics sound distinctive. If you want to know why this is so, go to the LAMM web page at www.lammindustries.com. The purpose of this article isn’t to review LAMM but to share my vision of the place of the LAMM sound within the contemporary Hi End world.
What shocked me about this gear? First was a total lack of any mental abuse by the music, the delicacy and non-intrusiveness of the signal, and a complete absence of electronically made effects. I do not feel that I would like to write a product review. Many reviews have already written about LAMM products. But I would like to note just one very interesting fact: it is difficult to turn the LAMMs off. It is strange. Do you ever answer a phone call while music is on? Or talk with one of your housemates? Or do something, anything, which requires concentration? You shut down your system and return back to life, don’t you? Not with the LAMMs. This stuff creates sounds so organically bonded with your environment that you’ll just turn down an attenuator on the preamp. Why? I do not know. However, Vladimir Shushurin, the designer of LAMMs, says that he knows why.
Mr. Shushurin participated in proprietary Russian research projects (utilizing enormous resources of the Cold War dumped to the military researches) that explored the way we hear. These were not just medical anatomy studies to understand the biological process but ones that attempted to grasp how our hearing creates those “spiritual images”. If someone were to conduct similar research and publish the findings, the results would eliminate the common misconception that we all hear differently. In fact we all hear in a different way the different music from man-made machines but we have a very common reaction to the natural sounds. However, those who constantly expose their hearing mechanisms to those natural and pure sounds, as opposed to synthesized or electronically synthetic sounds, are not attracted to sounds which are not found in real life. It is so simple and so scary. Simple, because true sound is found in the real world, not created by applying certain harmonic metrics to an electrical signal. Scary, because no manufacturers besides LAMM have explored this aspect of human hearing and at the same time have the privilege and luxury of being a world-class amplifier designer.
From what I’ve just said it is very easy to understand why LAMM products cost a bit more than those from other manufacturers. But what kinds of elements make up the price? Is it the total amount of resistors and capacitors the designer uses multiplied by the number of times the company placed a large ad in an audio magazine? Well, do you try to measure the amount of paint that Rembrandt used for his pictures? Can you measure the dollar value of the effort that humans spend trying to get closer to the Truth? LAMM is not just your next amplifier, it is your way of buying peace with God (as far as sound is concerned). It is the enabler that exposes you to human musical wealth. It is a piece of art which gives a lot of pleasure if you know how to use it and it is a ‘small’ price to pay to LAMM as they are the only company (according to my knowledge) which makes it possible.
However, if I were a dealer I would perhaps have difficulty selling LAMM equipment. It would be much easier for me to demonstrate to my client other equipment: “My dear friend! For another $15K you will have the ability to hear how the stomach of your favorite artist consumes a ham sandwich which the artist ate a day before the recording…Oh! I’m sorry, you are not a proctologist… in such case, did you know that when a drummer hits the cymbals, the impact of the drum stick with metal surface actually consists of 50 micro-hits and you could entertain yourself by counting them. Let do it together… 1,2,3,4,5… Or you know what? For additional $5K I could offer you a portable device that could count it for you. Even more …if you get both of them today then I will provide you with two years of free battery replacement and promise to inform you when a new state-of-the-art device detecting the positioning of the drum stick relative to the North Pole will be available….” Absurd? Not at all. It is a necessary routine that dealers must follow in order to be in the business. They need to provide evidence that a model they are pushing now is far superior to the model they sold last year. It is easy to demonstrate quantitative differences to a client than to force the client to read books, go to concerts, and visit museums for a long time before entering a Hi-End store. LAMM equipment is about building a bridge between your own personal experiences of beauty and being able to obtain this experience every time you turn on your audio equipment.
Oscar Wild suggested, “treat your spirit with sensations and let sensation treat your spirit”… So, surround your life with positive sensations. Buy flowers and smell the beautiful scent, see wonderful pictures and be blessed by your vision, drink fine wine and enjoy the fruit on your tongue. Don’t you think you deserve to be surrounded by original sound sensations as well? Let LAMM do it for you. It is not Hi End. It is the only way to enjoy natural sound through electronic equipment.
Roman Bessnow. February 10, 2000
I had a chance to audition both the M1.1s and M2.1s before making a purchase and my choice fell to the M2.1s. Below are my impressions of the two.
The total presentation simply defies description. All the terms we like to use to define a piece of equipment’s sonic signature seem inappropriate here, because there is no sonic signature. Everything is done naturally and transparently and with a harmonic balance that is just unbelievable until you experience it.
The Lamm M1.1 monaural amplifiers are one of the few pieces of equipment that I have auditioned where I eventually found myself simply listening to the music. I listened for hours re-evaluating the other components in the system in a new light as well as re-evaluating the music itself. But, ultimately, I just gave up to the pleasantness of the experience.
There are no apparent compromises anywhere in the listening spectrum. Base is tight with plenty of slam, mids are articulate, and pleasant and highs are revealing yet unstressed. This, at all listening levels that I could tolerate, from a whisper to deafeningly loud.
The Lamm M2.1 power amplifiers are a magnificent addition to the contemporary audio listening room as they resolve, once and for all, the age old trade off between authoritative base slam and tightness and an articulate, satisfying mid and high frequency presentation… I have never before witnessed a response to this central issue of audio reproduction as well executed as in the Lamm M2.1 monaural power amplifiers. Their capabilities over the entire listening range are nothing short of astounding.
The presentation is untarnished by anything that you would define as unnatural and this is the key element to the success that this amplifier represents. There is nothing here that is unnatural and hence, nothing that is unmusical.
I have electrostatic panel loudspeakers and they do require that you make a careful choice as far as amplification is concerned. If you really want yours to shine, stop hunting. Audition the Lamm M2.1s and buy them. However, I would not recommend these amplifiers to anyone that is thrilled more by the hunt for audio perfection than by the realization.
Jim Nugnes. February 8, 2000
I’ve just purchased a pair of M2.1s and the LL2 linestage — WOW!!! The sound is on the money: perfect harmonic balance, transparency and 3D soundstaging. Just go audition the equipment — listening is believing. I’ve heard plenty of so called high-end equipment but Vladimir’s components are in a class by themselves. To put it bluntly, he is a Picasso of audio engineering. Just listen.
Mitchell Schumer. November 22, 1999
In the 20 years that I have enjoyed this hobby, I have come across a select few products which performed at such a high standard that I would place them in a class by themselves. One such product is the LAMM ML2 amplifier. The ML2 reproduces the complete harmonic structure of music with a correctness and purity that is simply extraordinary. There is truth in tone and timbre, phenomenal resolution, and (when paired with an efficient speaker), magnificent dynamic contrast. Moreover, the entire audible spectrum is reproduced in this manner. Absolutely nothing, from visceral lows to sparkling highs, is rolled off. The musical presentation takes on an aura of realism, that palpable presence of the performance which the enthusiast of this hobby aspires to achieve.
For me, the most problematic ownership issue regarding these amplifiers is speaker selection. To achieve the most realistic presentation, high efficiency (at least 94db/wt/m) with a relatively flat impedance curve is essential. After some experimentation, I have achieved superb results with the Classic Audio Reproductions T-1 speakers (97.5db/wt/m sensitivity).
The sound of the ML2/T-1 combo is stellar. This is a match made in heaven. The T-1’s allow the ML2’s to realize their full potential. I have never experienced the “performers are in the room” phenomenon like I have experienced with this amplifier/speaker combination. You are drawn into the performance as opposed to listening to the music. Tone and timbre are convincingly accurate. Resolution/detail is phenomenal. Dynamic contrasts are remarkable. Transient response is so quick that attack and decay characteristics are conveyed with lifelike realism. Artificial colorations are virtually nonexistent. The ML2s drive the T-1s superbly to volume levels which are far above my limits of tolerance. Imaging is good, but the speakers do not disappear as smaller speakers will. Their size is their primary drawback. Weighing 300 pounds each, these speakers are the size of small refrigerators and dominate the room. However, once I heard this combination, I didn’t care. I highly recommend this product combination.
David Shapiro. November 1, 1999
Vladimir, after reviewing your Web site, I decided to purchase a pair of your M2.1s, due to the fact that I have a 4 ohm speakers which are 89 db SPL. The amplifiers truly set a new standard in the reproduction of the bass registers, extremely efficient to use in that I use one-third less volume control, and the mids and highs are open and very smooth. Critical listening to “Breaking Silence” by Janis Ian, “A Meeting by the River” with Ry Cooder and V.M.Bhatt and lastly Lyle Lovett’s “North Dakota” on his Joshua Judges Ruth album, will confirm why any audiophile should purchase a pair of these amplifiers. Once again, Vladimir, you’ve set the standard up a notch or two….let’s see who can follow in your footsteps.
Jim Martin. April 21, 1999
Excellent job on your website and thanks once again for building one of the best sounding and looking amplifiers on the planet–the M2.1. They have brought me hours and hours of musical enjoyment and are worth every penny. They are truly magic. Thanks again.
Tom Jofeju. February 21, 1999
I have been a seeker of the best sound possible for 15 years. I have been to many of the best audio shows and listened to equipment in all price ranges, from the modest to the most expensive. I have found that it is largely true that you get what you pay for. There are no free lunches. However, high price does not automatically mean high quality. In LAMM amplifiers I have found, like so many others, some of the world’s best amplifiers for fair prices. There are more expensive amplifiers but none better. LAMM amplifiers are not cheap, but compared to the prices of the finest on the planet, LAMM is a bargain.
I have auditioned the best out there. Hundreds of hours listening, and when I heard the LAMM M 1.1’s and ML 1’s, I knew they were special. There are so many ways they are head and shoulders above the rest. They became simply irresistible. I have owned both. Which you own depends on speakers.
The ML 1’s have a liquidity of tonality that is beyond belief. And yet the bass slam competes with the best of solid-state amps. They combine musicality and sheer power to a degree I never thought possible. In large choral works, the detail and finesse of the soundstage is unequalled. It is the experience of “you are there”. These amps have raw power and can drive any speaker on the planet, and yet….there is a sweetness to the sound that will turn the heads of the low-watt, single-ended crowd. You owe it to yourself to audition the best and hear the difference.
Happy LAMM owner.
Mike Ladra, Salinas, CA. January 31, 1999
Congratulations! Your products converted a bunch of skeptical, hardened, “heard-it-all-before” recording professionals into LAMM Believers. Here’s the story…
In the studio, we need amplification that is, first and foremost, absolutely true to the input signal and, secondarily, totally reliable; because the equipment sees frequent, heavy and extended duty cycles.
About 2 years ago, after a painstakingly methodical search that lasted too damn long and involved setting up all manner of amplifiers in the studio and in my home, we unanimously selected the LAMM ML1 as our amplifier of choice. Why?
First off, the differences between it and other “audiophile approved” amps were not at all subtle. Indeed, the search would have ended immediately had we been able to find a SINGLE ACCEPTABLE offering among the Levinsons, Krells, Classes, Balanced Audio Technologies, etc. that we brought in. When the LAMM came in, however, our search ended right then and there.
From the first few notes, it was obvious that you got things right. Exactly right. Indeed, we discovered that your equipment tends to make other stuff sound either broken, defective, hazy, grainy, ill-focused or just plain poorly designed.
So in terms of fidelity, we finally found a brand that allows us to properly replicate the input signal–the signal we’re getting directly from our microphones. After seeing duty cycles that have crushed Brystons and blown up Sumos and the like, the LAMMs continue to operate flawlessly–fulfilling our reliability requirement.
What more could we ask? Nothing. What more can we say? Thank you! Sincerely.
Phil Nicolo & the gang at Studio 4 Recording. January 28, 1999
Sometimes we take things for granted. A good automobile or a fine Swiss watch that simply does its job keeping time. As an audiophile for more than 45 years, I have grown used to NOT taking things for granted, always searching to better the end result, the music and the experience of listening to it. About 4 years ago I was introduced to LAMM. Although at first I was hesitant to introduce a product that at the time was a relatively new name to the audio field, I can now say that my decision to use LAMM equipment was one of the best decisions of my long history in audio.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of owning and using some of the finest equipment available. One can determine satisfaction with a particular piece of equipment when we look around our listening room and see amplifiers and the like that we have had for 2, 3, 4 years or longer, and have absolutely no desire to change or ” upgrade”. I can easily say this about LAMM. I have had the pleasure, indeed, the honor of owning and enjoying the M 1.1, L1, ML1, and ML2 for some period of time and can say without doubt that I feel they represent sound and quality that are unsurpassed in the world today! Granted, LAMM is not a “Big Player” in the field of high end audio. I see this as a positive as I would look on other hobbies and fields that offer the best by manufacturers that do not have high visibility name recognition. As examples we have Aston Martin and sports cars, Frank Muller and watches, Leica and cameras. All represent the pinnacle of their art, craftsmanship as a continuation of their passion for seeking perfection. These are the very qualities I see in LAMM. Most true audiophiles should trust the most important piece of reviewing equipment they own, their own ears. Most do not! Many default to a ‘Name Brand’ only to be swayed by the cosmetics, heft and whatever other hype the manufacturer has foisted on them. Most audiophiles overlook the most important thing of all, the sound, the music, and the soul and passion that can result. This is a pity.
Thankfully, LAMM has put its design effort into achieving end results that are so breathtaking no other product today comes close. The products are conservative in looks, honest in implementation, built to the highest level of quality with a passion for perfection. No chrome or gold to catch the eye. After all, with the lights turned down low, what can be more satisfying than enjoying music, sweet music, passionate music, having your heart race with excitement or to wipe your eye to clear a tear of joy. This is what it is all about.
Thank you, LAMM.
Donald D. Reefe, January 27, 1999
The LAMM M1.1 is an amplifier for those who can see past the marketing hype of typical high-end companies. It’s for those who can hear past the techno babble, the nonsense, the noise. It’s for those who listen to music, who love its power, glory, nuance and subtle inner shadings. This amplifier communicates the essence of music with a connection that is pure, direct and soul-satisfying. It comes down to this: I believe a great amplifier gets out of the way of the music. I believe the M1.1 is a great amplifier.
Eric Brutten, January 20, 1999
The M1.1’s are the most authoritatively musical amplifiers I have ever heard. They combine crushing bass weight, explosive dynamics and endless power along with the enchanting liquidity and dimensionality of the best tube designs. Further, their extension both top and bottom has a remarkable limitless quality to it–quite a shock after hearing the typical rolled-off extension of most other amps, which only feel “rolled off” in comparison. Finally, their greatest achievement to my ears is the remarkable balancing of all aspects of their sound, like a great beautiful tapestry with not a single thread out of place to mar the whole creation. This wholeness is what makes them so musical, and so very special indeed.
Brian Edwards, December 10, 1998
We have had LAMM M1.1 amplifiers and L1 preamplifier for about two years now and are very happy with them. From a recording studio point of view, LAMM equipment is truly of a reference grade and fulfills all needs and desires of a recording engineer.
Chesky Records, December 9, 1998. http://www.chesky.com